Birtley Town 1 Washington 0 – Ebac Northern League Division Two

The best pass of the game produced the only goal of the game, a game that solidifies Birtley’s mid-table standing.  Meanwhile Washington, who have struggled for points, played far better than their league position would suggest.

Birtley: They were up and running first.  In the 8th minute they had a free kick cleared off the line and – save for the goal – right back Owen Lancaster produced the best four passes of the half (a judgement in no way influenced by me standing next to his father).

In the 22nd minute a Lancaster pass gave captain Tony Smith the chance to shoot.  Both that effort and a follow up by Jack Honour were both blocked.  A three-man move involving Cris Campos-Loughlin and Ben Garrity was finished by Honour who had another effort stopped by Washington captain Aiden Hutchinson.

They finally managed to find the net in the 42nd minute thanks to a beautifully crafted pass threaded through the defence by John Sherlock.  Garrity read the pass and timed his run to get ahead of a Washington defender and slot the ball past keeper Harry Archer.

They almost opened up the Washington defence in the 52nd minute when a potentially dangerous cross-field ball by Smith aimed at Sherlock was intercepted by Washington’s Lewis Leech.  Without the interception, Sherlock would have had a clear run at goal.

Substitute Christopher Stevens proved their biggest threat for the rest of the game.  In the 73rd minute he beat the offside trap, was one-on-one with Archer but just couldn’t bend the ball round the keeper and into the net.  He followed that up with a free kick that moved in the air – forcing Archer to punch it away – and then another curling shot.  In the 88th minute he had a shot come back off the post, with the follow-up by Smith hit wide.  Birtley’s final chance came with the last kick of the game.  In the 93rd minute fellow sub Sam Dinsley’s shot was parried by Archer, diving at full stretch down to his left.

Washington:  It took them a bit of time to get going.  For the opening quarter of an hour they relied on quick, first-time balls up to their attackers, usually to No. 8 Kieren Broomfield.  He was up against two or three defenders and his team mates didn’t get close enough to him to pick up any second balls.  As soon as they did, they got their first chance.  A knock down by Broomfield fell to Alex Dobinson whose rasping shot was parried out for a corner by Birtley keeper Graeme Pickering.

In the 37th minute, Dobinson tried to sneak a free kick past the wall, putting the ball a foot or two wide of the goal.  Three minutes later, Daniel Quine hit another free kick wide of the target.

As the half came to a close, a poor kick out by Pickering fell to Broomfield who passed to No. 10 Josh Akal, but he could only put the ball over the bar as Pickering scurried back to cover his goal.

In the 57th minute Dobinson sent over a cross to the far post from the right hand side, with Quine running in and planting his header wide right – a good move and a good chance not converted.  In the 64th minute a long ball from the back by Hutchinson found sub Lewis McGeoch whose first-time turn and shot curled wide right.

In the last 10 minutes they had a couple of chances but couldn’t convert them either – Quine with a turn and shot blocked by Pickering, Jordan Dixon with a shot hit wide and then finally McGeoch trying to lob the ball over Pickering, but the No. 18 didn’t get enough height on the ball.

Mike Snowdon

Northallerton Town 1 Stockton Town 2 – Ebac Northern League Division One

This was the best I’ve seen Northallerton play this season, albeit in a losing cause.  Meanwhile, Stockton’s patience paid dividends as they took another step towards the first division title.

The game started as you would expect – Stockton applying all the possession and pressure.  It took Northallerton 10 minutes to start playing with a bit of confidence.  By then their keeper Tom Dawson had already made two saves at his near post for shots by Fred Woodhouse.  The Stockton No. 9 followed that up in the 17th minute with a crisp shot well saved by Dawson.

David Hillerby had Northallerton’s first clear chance in the 22nd minute only for him to put it wide of the goal.

At the other end, Northallerton were defending deep and in numbers, frustrating Stockton’s attacks with a series of blocks and tackles, with the most effective by captain Neil Pattinson who was able to nudge the ball away from Stockton winger James Risborough just as he was about to shoot after beating the offside trap.

Stockton kept on plugging away – attacking down the left, down the right, through the middle and with some long balls – they just couldn’t prise the Northallerton defence open.  Northallerton’s organisation, concentration and hard work kept themselves in the match up to half time.

Dawson was busy in the opening 10 minutes of the second half too – twice having to make saves for Max Craggs free kicks from just outside the Northallerton area – the first a top save, lunging high to his right.  As the second half progressed, the home team came more into the game as an attacking force.  In the 56th minute Callum Smith sent over a dangerous cross from the right that was cleared just before Nicky Martin was able to get to it.

Stockton finally broke the deadlock in the 58th minute when a cross by Woodhouse was met by Craggs at the near post and his header made it 1-0 to the visitors.  In the 65th minute Dawson produced another excellent save when he tipped another first-time turn and shot by Craggs over the bar.

In the 68th minute, Stockton left back Dan McWilliams nonchalantly knocked another Smith cross out for a corner – putting it only a foot or two wide of his own goal.  His next contribution was more positive and decisive:  hitting a ball over the Northallerton defence to Hayes who lobbed it over Dawson, with the ball nestling in the right hand side of the net.

Northallerton’s best attack produced a goal.  Full back Charlie Graham made a powerful run down the left and cut back past two Stockton defenders, with his shot finding a way past Stockton keeper Callum Roberts.  It was no more than their industry deserved.

With two minutes to go, Northallerton sub Connor Short had a half chance, but he couldn’t get his shot on target.

Three more points for Stockton, who put Saturday’s disappointing FA Vase defeat behind them, and a creditable, battling display by Northallerton.

Mike Snowdon

The draw for the fifth round of the Buildbase FA Vase has been made and the ties involving our teams are:

Consett at home to Deal Town or Binfield

Hebburn Town away to Longridge Town

West Auckland Town away to Plymouth Parkway FC

Ties to be played on February 8.


Consett 3 Lutterworth Town 1 – Buildbase FA Vase 4th round

The weather was almost the winner.  Kick off was delayed for an hour to try and allow the gale force winds to subside.  It was a credit to both teams that in atrocious conditions (with heavy rain also pelting down) they were able to put on such a good match.

And a bit of late drama made it all the more of a spectacle.

It took the Steelmen almost half an hour to wrest control of the game, with some spirited play and defending by the visitors.  But once they did, their superior football and technique as well as pace allowed them to take a two-goal lead.

Playing against the wind, Lutterworth put down some early markers – a ball flashed across the goal mouth by Mark Warren and then a 20-yarder by Jordan Small well saved by Consett keeper Kyle Hayes.

Consett No. 10 Luke Carr was the pivot – causing the Leicestershire team most problems with his direct running, pace and astute passing.  In the 31st minute they started to make headway, first with a Jake Orrell shot deflected for a corner, a Carr shot, a Dale Pearson free kick over the bar and then a shot wide of the goal.

Their pressure paid dividends in the 37th minute, with Carr breaking the deadlock with a shot from outside the box, hit with placement and power to send it past Lutterworth keeper Warren Butlin.

They closed the half with more chances – several for Calvin Smith and another one for Orrell.  They were denied a second by a save by Butlin and a block close to his own goal line by Justin Peace.

In the 54th minute Lutterworth were themselves denied a goal when captain Marshall Keenan hit what looked a sure fire goal, only for Hayes to pull of a save.  That was matched at the other end, with Butlin able to stop another Pearson shot.  Minutes later the Consett No. 9 had another effort saved but Consett got the crucial second goal in the 61st minute.

Left back Darren Holden played a one-two at pace with Pearson which allowed Holden to race forward and chip the ball over Butlin, with a deft finish.

Just as Lutterworth looked as though they were running out of energy and ideas, they got themselves back in the game.  Hayes, kicking against the strong wind, produced a kick out that went straight to Keenan who passed the ball to Small who in turn managed to turn past the Consett defence only to be brought down by Hayes.  Kade Lewis struck the penalty strong and true to make it 2-1.  The spot kick made the game more “interesting” than it should have been.  Consett nerves started to jangle and for a few minutes, a couple of mistakes crept into their game.  With 15 minutes to go they started to re-assert themselves with shots by Pearson, Carr and Smith, with Pearson’s chip shot cleared by Lutterworth’s Jamie Cooper close to his goal line.

Consett finally sealed the win and settled the nerves in the 86th minute.  A long ball released Pearson who broke down the left, with huge gaps left in the Lutterworth defence as they pushed men forward looking for an equaliser.  Unselfishly, Pearson drew Butlin and a defender towards him before passing it across to Ali Alshabeeb who had the simple task of prodding it home to make it 3-1.

Wembley moved just that little bit closer for Consett.  Congratulations also to Hebburn Town and West Auckland who join them in Monday’s draw, but commiserations to Stockton Town who fell to a lone goal at home.

Mike Snowdon

Sunderland RCA 5 Ashington 1 – Ebac Northern League Division One

The headline of saints, sinners and kitchen sinks is the easy bit, but trying to follow to twists of turns of this game is something completely different.

In the first half RCA ran out of kitchen sinks to throw at Ashington.  Chances came, chances went in abundance.  On several occasions they were inches away from taking the lead.

The fact that they failed to score was not only down to some close shaves, it was also down to some extremely dogged defending by the Colliers.  They were constantly pushed back but kept their nerve and organisation (with left back Ben Gaffney particularly tenacious) along with some good saves by keeper Adam McHugh.

Mark Davison and Kyle Davis both had chances aplenty but couldn’t find the net.  Inevitably, it was the Colliers who took the lead when a quick break set Kieran Brennan up against the RCA defence.  The No. 10 looked as though he’d taken too many touches but managed to cut the ball back and then place it past RCA keeper Robert Dean.  ‘Against the run of play’ doesn’t begin to do it justice.  (There was even a twist in the tale for Brennan.  Originally down as a substitute, he was drafted into the starting line-up when team mate Dylan Williamson was caught up in traffic following an accident.)

It was the visitors’ best attack in the first half by some way.

However, within minutes of the second half starting, Ashington’s defence were saints turned to sinners.  They just fell apart, allowing RCA to enjoy a 17-minute, five goal blitz.

Goal 1 (47th minute):  The ball is drilled into the six-yard box, McHugh fails to hold on to it and Carl Lawson knocks it in.

Goal 2 (49th minute):  Dylan Elliott gets a glancing header to a cross by Davison and finds the back of the net.

Goal 3  (52nd minute):  The pick of the bunch:  Davison plants a beautifully hit free kick over the wall and into the top left corner of the goal, leaving McHugh stranded.

Goal 4:  (59th minute):  A long ball by captain Greg Swansbury gets through the back four, McHugh hesitates and allows Nathan O’Neill to get to the ball first and nudge it in.

Goal 5:  (62nd minute):  A ball into the box gets past defenders and keeper, with Davison on hand to prod it home for his second of the night.

With 15 minutes to go, Swansbury was sent off for a challenge on Lewis Robson, however it meant that Ashington were down to 10 men too as they’d used all of their substitutes, with Robson unable to continue.

It was obviously way too late, but Ashington managed to re-group and prevent further scoring in the final quarter of the game.  It was an astonishing turn-round.

Mike Snowdon

The dates for the quarter-finals of the Comtek Ernest Armstrong Second Division Cup are:

Monday 3rd February 2020
Newcastle University v Tow Law Town

Tuesday 4th February 2020
Chester-le-Street Town v West Allotment Celtic

Wednesday 5th February 2020
Jarrow v Willington
Ryton & Crawcrook Albion v Redcar Athletic

Two second division games have also been re-scheduled:

Tuesday 21st January 2020
Tow Law Town v Sunderland West End (from 28/12)

Wednesday 29th January 2020
Bedlington Terriers v Birtley Town (from 08/01)